Best Buddies Jobs: Shalonda
I wasn’t sure if anyone would hire me.
Just like most of us, Shalonda wanted to work and earn her own paycheck — but she had good reason to worry that she wouldn’t be able to get a job because of her disability.
In 2013-2014, a staggering 84% of people with developmental disabilities did not have a paid job in the community. A job — and the feeling of purpose, independence, and self-sufficiency it brings — could have been out of reach for Shalonda. But through the Best Buddies Jobs program, she found fulfilling, meaningful, well-paid work, where she knows she’s valued for her contributions. “My co-workers rely on me,” she says.
The confidence Shalonda has gained and the money she earns give her the freedom to enjoy what her wider world has to offer: “I’m working downtown where the big shots are,” she says. “Things are nice down here. I have money to spend. I’m able to go shopping and get my hair done. It feels great to be able to do it on my own. I feel independent.”
People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are incredibly talented, loyal, hard-working and driven individuals who have the ability to contribute to the workplace but unfortunately they are disproportionately unemployed in our nation and beyond. As Shalonda’s story clearly shows, the impact individuals with IDD have on our society is beyond exceptional and the work place should be no different.
In 2015 , the Best Buddies Jobs program impacted thousands of lives and helped people like Shalonda discover that feeling of empowerment and financial independence. In 2016, we will continue to expand our Jobs program and work to find competitive-paying jobs for people with IDD, but we need your support.
You have the power to create more success stories like Shalonda’s by getting involved in the following ways: